The week has been quiet in Paris with a few discoveries. There is an excellent exhibition of Donald Sultan‘s new works “Mimosas”, at Galerie Andres Thalmann. Sultan‘s works are characterized by a combination of abstract, minimalist shapes and precise lines, creating a harmonious balance between figuration and abstraction. Vivid colours are just as much a part of his artistic signature as the use of unusual industrial materials such as tar, spackle, wooden floor panels, linoleum, and even coal. Sultan uses these materials to create visual tension in his often organic subjects. And teh contrast is fascinating.
The gallery, which opened last July on Faubourg St Honoré is extremely pretty and was designed by architect Sophie Dries. Donald Sultan has lived at different moments of his life in France, near St Tropez some years ago in the former Paul Signac house and has kept an apartment in Paris since 1993. He used to show at Marie Hélène Montenay’s gallery and with Daniel Templon. He is now with the Swiss German gallerist Andres Thalmann. (Until January 13)
On my way to see the (rather austere) exhibition of Benjamin Delessert’s botanical library in the magical Bibliothèque Mazarine, I visited Boris Lipnitzki‘s photo exhibition at Roger-Viollet, on rue de Seine. This Ukrainian photographer arrived in France in 1922 and started out with couturier Paul Poiret whose fashion collections he photographed. He then worked for Chanel, Schiaparelli and Balenciaga an his pictures were published in Femina, Jardin des modes, Marie Claire and Vogue. He soon opened his studio at 109 rue du Faubourg St Honoré and shot the portraits of Stravinsky and Prokofiev, Kandinsky and Chagall, all Russian speaking artists. But also of Edith Piaf and later Louis Jouvet and Yves Montand. He fled Paris in 1940 and found a ship in Marseille to take him to Cuba and, in 1943, to New York where Chagall welcomed him. He is back in France in 1945 after the war, where he died in 1971. Roger-Viollet acquired the production of his studio, one million negatives and prints, in 1970. They are kept at Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris but can be purchased on 6 rue de Seine.
The most extraordinary pictures in the show for me are of Brigitte Bardot, at her ballet class in Salle Pleyel, circa 1946. It is fascinating to think that this future huge star of French cinema, had already been spotted by Lipniztki when she was 12. The picture with her mother carrying an umbrella is modeled on Degas’ drawing of a ballerina in “l’Attente”. Another picture of Balanchine’s “Les Songes” with decors and costumes by André Derain at Théâtre des Champs Elysées in May 1933 is wonderful.
Until January 20, Galerie Roger-Viollet, 6 rue de Seine. All pictures are for sale
I am not sure Juergen Teller deserved the huge space of Grand Palais Ephémère for his show “i need to live” but some of his portraits are really extraordinary. And his photo of Agnès Varda and her cat, shot in Paris in 2018, is both poetic and strong. My favorite was of a group of wasps eating jelly called “Forest N°93”. A chef d’oeuvre!
Grand Palais Éphémère until January 9.
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